I woke up late this morning to the sounds of my SO chatting with a woman. I couldn’t hear what was being said except for a few stray words that came floating up to me through the open bedroom window. Words that sounded like “… you shouldn’t get angry… it’s ok.. if you need help…” Those few words were frustratingly vague and without any context I was in the dark about that they were referring to.
By the time I came downstairs, the woman had left. So I asked my SO what the conversation was about. He told me that it was a neighbour from a few houses down the road. She’d come to our house specifically to ask for advice because we have dogs – 3 big ones. Apparently she wanted to know how we dealt with them and how we managed to get them to bark less. She’d been having problems with her neighbours you see, since she herself had a dog – a rescue dog like ours, and the sweetest dog you can meet (I’d met him before and it’s true, he was a very sweet small boy; completely harmless. But her neighbours hated the dog and had been quite nasty towards her since they adopted him – going so far as to threaten her and hint that they would be complaining to the authorities.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’d met the woman and her dog before while I was out for a run about a year ago. She’d just rescued him after finding him quite badly injured from a dog fight. She and her husband had brought him to the vet to get treated and kept him with them while he healed. Of course by the time he healed, the family, including their young daughter had gotten attached to the sweet boy and so they decided to keep him.
The problem was, they have 2 difficult neighbours, one with a cat and they were stuck. The neighbours had grown increasingly nasty towards the dog – to the point to which the woman was afraid that they might just poison the boy when she wasn’t looking. She had taken to keeping him indoors and rarely letting him out onto the porch so as to keep him away from the neighbours’ eyes, but she couldn’t quite stop him from barking excitedly whenever someone passed by the house.
That’s why she’d come to us. She knew that we had the only house in the neighbourhood with 3 big dogs. And somehow, our neighbours were fine with us (My SO had taken care of that even before he moved into this neighbourhood. He’d visited the neighbours to ask if they were ok with him moving in with 3 big dogs and made sure they were all fine before even signing the papers). Plus she’d noticed that the dogs weren’t barking at her or her husband anymore when they passed by our house to walk their rescue dog. So she was asking for advice from my SO. To be honest, we think she was also at the end of her rope and needed someone to vent to (my SO told me that at certain points in the conversation it seemed like she was going to break down in tears).
My guy advised her to look through youtube videos on training dogs to not bark at strangers since she admitted that she was searching for a dog trainer but found them to be too expensive for her budget. He also told her that in case the neighbours did what they’d threatened her with and complained to the authorities, he knew of someone who ran a dog shelter and he could ask him to take the dog in, so no worries. The most important thing though, he advised her, would be for her or her husband to not lose their cool. Always keep things civil when talking to their neighbours – even if the neighbours themselves weren’t capable of it. Because they have more to lose if they let the discussions escalate into arguments. Be civil without being supplicating. There was no need to be apologetic about owning a dog; least of all, rescuing one that needed care.
I think chatting with my SO helped calm her down somewhat. At least she had hope now where she had none before. But I do hope that she manages to train her dog and keep him safe from the nasty neighbours. I would rather her family not have to lose the boy and especially for him not to lose a loving family.
This incident and the other about a guy living in a HDB flat in Singapore (he wrote a post in Facebook about being forced to give up his dogs because of a complaint made by his neighbour) makes me wonder. What is with the nastiness of people? Why can’t people just find ways to get along? And how is it that some people lack any sort of human decency? Why do people only think of complaining and not about finding compromise? These dogs are creatures without a voice, and they depend on the care and love of humans like us. They don’t deserve such animosity.
And these people? The ones without compassion or sympathy? I wonder how they manage to reconcile this lack of empathy and basic decency with themselves.
Do you know of such people? How do you deal with them? How do you deal with bad neighbours? How can you be a good neighbour to an unreasonable one?